As Childhood Strokes Increase, Surgeons Aim To Reduce Risks

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From Your Health Journal…..”It is so upsetting to read about young children having strokes, but at least this article has a happy ending, as the girls has some improvement after medical attention. I encourage all of you to read the full article, as it is very moving to read – – a true miracle around the holiday season!”

From the article…..

Boston brain surgeon Ed Smith points to a tangle of delicate gray shadows on his computer screen. It’s an X-ray of the blood vessels on the left side of 13-year-old Maribel Ramos’ brain.

“If we follow this blood vessel up here, you see that right there it gets pinched off almost to nothing,” Smith explains. “And then this little puff of smoke right here, which are these little narrow blood vessels that don’t fill the rest of the brain as it normally should.” Maribel’s brain is starved for oxygen, he says.

Those spidery blood vessels represent an effort by the girl’s body to compensate for the pinched section of her major cerebral artery. In fact, “puff of smoke” is the actual name of Maribel’s disorder “moyamoya” in Japanese because the researchers who named it thought that’s what it looked like on X-rays.

The disorder is just one of the many conditions that can make a child more prone to strokes. One in 10,000 kids will suffer a stroke, causing disability or even death. But surgeons can now prevent strokes in some of these children children like Maribel.

Moyamoya is not Maribel’s only health condition. She also suffers from sickle cell disease, a much more common disorder that causes red blood cells to be spiky and misshapen and prone to form blood clots in the dangerously narrow blood vessels of her brain. Sickle cell disease is the most common cause of strokes in children.

Smith, who works at Children’s Hospital in Boston, says the combination gives Maribel a 95 percent chance of suffering a disabling or possibly fatal stroke. In fact, a few months ago she suffered a warning stroke.

“My legs started to get numb and my tongue got numb and my hands were shaking a lot,” she says. “I did not know what was going on.”

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